A LANDMARK city centre hotel could be sold to the North’s leading university, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Durham University has confirmed it is in talks to take over the Three Tuns Hotel, on New Elvet, Durham City.

However, the University refused to disclose any details of its plans for the building, which dates back to the 16th Century.

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Paulina Lubacz, the University’s acting registrar, said: “The University can confirm that it is in discussions to acquire the Three Tuns.

“We have no further comment to make at this early stage.”

The hotel is part of the Edinburgh-based Swallow group, which went into administration in September 2006 and was sold to F&C Reit Asset Management two months later.

The Three Tuns was put up for sale in 2008 and is now managed by Crerar Management Limited.

No-one at the Swallow group or the Three Tuns responded to The Northern Echo’s request for comment today (Monday, February 25).

It is believed about 20 people are employed at the hotel.

One worker, who did not wish to be named, said: “Our bosses won’t say anything. It (closure) would be very sad.

“The hotel’s tired and neglected. I would say it would need £3-4m to tidy it up.”

Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods said: “I will be meeting with Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, in the near future and I will raise the potential future of the Three Tuns with him then to try and ensure that all possible options are in the best interests of the city.”

Jonathan Lovell, chair of Elvet Residents’ Association (ERA), said: “If this property were to become student accommodation, ERA would welcome the possibility of reducing pressure on family housing being acquired by landlords in Elvet and elsewhere in the city.”

However, Mr Lovell also raised concerns about the building falling into disrepair.

The hotel has 50 bedrooms, a lounge bar and restaurant and conference facilities for up to 350 people.

The University’s Estate Strategy for 2011-20 makes no reference to the Three Tuns but does say the University wants to consolidate onto Durham’s Science Site and Bailey/New Elvet areas.

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